'Nice walks near me' is a term we've been using to search for opportunities to get out and about to exercise in the past few days... so we've rounded up the country's best. With time off work and children not in school, it's the perfect opportunity to take some time out, to wrap up warm, throw on some wellies and and get outside.
If you're looking for somewhere to stay, take a look at our 5 cosy weekend cottages or 11 best Airbnbs with amazing interiors. Blow away the December cobwebs while rambling along blustery coastal paths, or take a stroll through frosty countryside and keep your eyes peeled for seasonal wildlife. Let the children expend some of that pent up energy, letting them explore the forests and hills, while you enjoy the beauty and peace of the hills.
With your help, the National Trust cares for hundreds of walking trails in beautiful locations all across the country. Here are some of the best walking trails and events to give you a spring in your step during the cold winter months!
1. Sheffield Park and Garden in East Sussex
With a choice of pathways to keep your boots clean or woodland and parkland to get your boots dirty, there's a route around Sheffield Park and Gardens to suit everyone. A 1.5 mile circular walk takes you past Ringwood Toll natural playtrail, or you can explore further by venturing down to the River Ouse where you will find the remains of an 18th century lock and a wildlife haven.
2. Botallack Mine, Cornwall
Dramatic coastal scenes truly come to life in the winter months, as the wind and waves crash against the rocks. At Botallack you have the added drama of the old ruined mine buildings, made famous by Poldark, clinging to the cliffs. Take a bracing stroll along the coast to see the iconic sites for yourself, then warm up in the Count House Workshop Café (open daily except 24th and 25th December).
3. Ilfracombe, North Devon
Experience the coast at a quiet time of year by taking a wintery stroll around Ilfracombe. The twisting and turning zig-zag walk to the top of the Ilfracombe Torrs was carved into the cliff face by the Victorians. Follow in their footsteps and be rewarded with fantastic views of the sea. Find details of the walk here.
4. Chartwell's 12 Days of Christmas trail
21 Nov – 5 Jan, 10am - 3pm
Perfect for little legs and some fresh air over the festive season, the interactive and buggy-friendly ’12 days of Christmas’ trail is the perfect way to explore the garden this winter.
Price: £1 per person. Recommended ages 3 plus.
After something a bit longer? Try the 45 minute estate walk to discover a Second World War bomb crater, dens made of coppiced chestnut trees, a treehouse and a camp created in honour of the Canadian troops that were stationed at Chartwell during World War Two.
5. Polesden Lacey, Surrey
Beat the winter blues and enjoy precious time to yourself as you soak up the peace and beauty of the Polesden Lacey landscape and the Surrey Hills beyond. This is a mildly challenging but hugely rewarding 5.5km (3.4 mile) walk that will take approximately two hours. At each viewpoint, stop and read the inspirational quote or extract of poetry beneath the door on the natural wooden plaque. Each has been specially chosen to help further awaken your senses and complement the surrounding landscape.
6. Carding Mill Valley, Shropshire
This walk starts from Carding Mill Valley at the heart of the Long Mynd and takes you on a gentle walk past the mill ponds and up the reservoir bank. Even in winter there is wildlife to be found, from a remarkable assortment of lichens to woodland birds sheltering amongst the trees in the lower valleys, and there might even be flocks of Golden Plover up at High Park. Ravens and Buzzards may be seen here at this time of year as well, and whatever the time of year there is always a good chance of spotting the wild ponies.
7. Longshaw, Derbyshire
Why not take advantage of the amazing views now that the leaves have gone from the trees, and enjoy a wintry wander across the Longshaw Estate. Look out for hidden history and wildlife as you walk through ancient woodland, or head down to Padley Gorge where the rushing Burbage Brook tumbles its way down the gritstone gorge. Afterward you’ll have earned a trip to the tea-room (open daily except 25th Dec) where you can indulge in tasty seasonal treats.
8. Ranger Walks at Cragside, Northumberland
Boxing day ranger walk: 26 December, 11am – 1pm
Walk off those mince pies on a Boxing Day blast around Cragside. Join the ranger team on a walk around the estate, taking in stunning winter scenery along the way.
New Year’s Day ranger walk: 1 January, 11am - 1pm
Start as you mean to go on this New Year and join a ranger-led walk to complete your first 10,000 steps of 2020. Enjoy the fresh air as you discover wintery scenery, sparkling lakes, towering trees and valley views.
Price: Normal admission charges apply for both walks
Cragside also has a whole host of walks which are the perfect opportunity for you to stretch your legs.
9. Castle Ward, County Down
Exercise mind and body this winter with a walk around the stunning landscape of Castle Ward. Fallen foliage reveals hidden views the morning fog is often slow to lift creating a mystical haze that adds a serene beauty to the landscape. Follow the Shore Trail to take in the stunning scenery of Strangford Lough. Make sure you bring a camera and see if you can spot any seals. The coast around Audley's Castle is a good place to start.
10. Sticklebarn and the Langdales, Cumbria
Enjoy the winter countryside in all its frosty glory on this 2-mile walk in the dramatic Langdale Valley. This walk offers a great opportunity for all the family to get out into the fells safely, while enjoying brilliant views of Lingmoor and Pike of Blisco and other surrounding Langdale fells. Combine your adventure with a trip to the Sticklebarn pub for the perfect pit-stop and a hearty meal in a cosy fireside snug.
11. Powis Castle, Welshpool
Pull on your winter woollies and take a stroll around the beautiful garden at Powis Castle this winter. See the shapes of topiary and intricately trained fruit trees, sparkling under frost or casting their long shadows in the low afternoon light. This is the best time of year to appreciate the garden’s structure and see how it's been made.
12. Dyffryn Gardens
Winter is a great time to explore the gardens at Dyffryn. The lack of foliage means you can appreciate the architecture of the bare trees, but for those who like flowers there are plenty of winter-flowering shrubs and plants as well. Not to mention the early snowdrops just beginning to appear above ground. This easy walk offers plenty of rest stops and an all-important opportunity for recharging your batteries with something delicious at the end.